Health chiefs stress-testing plans to cope with local outbreaks in South Tyneside

Health chiefs are due to finish testing measures to contain localised COVID-19 outbreaks in South Tyneside later this month

By James Harrison
Friday, 14th August 2020, 2:25 pm
South Shields town hall, with the NHS flag flying
South Shields town hall, with the NHS flag flying

Infection rates have plummeted following the virus’s peak in May, when the borough was listed as one of the worst-affected areas in England.

“We’re going to test and exercise our local plan to ensure it’s fit for purpose if real outbreaks come to light,” Sue Ross, the council’s interim corporate director for children, adults and health.

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“The outbreak exercise for business was very informative and gave some real knowledge on how to support businesses and make sure they have the necessary information available.

“As a result we’re now writing to local businesses so they’re aware of the plan and the steps to take, should they have a suspected case or an employee develops symptoms.”

Ross was speaking at a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

In July, the borough unveiled details of its Local Outbreak Control Plan, which sets out how it will react to a fresh rise in confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus.

And while this is not expected to see a full lockdown on the scale seen in places like Leicester and Greater Manchester, it could see more targeted measures for individual workplaces, schools, care homes and other venues.

Council bosses have also approved a host of new powers which would allow them to shut down and restrict entry to premises and events if necessary.

Health chiefs have previously warned COVID-19 likely remains ‘at large’ in South Tyneside, despite a fall in official figures and urged families to continue complying with hygiene and social distancing measures.

Ross added: “We’re also working closely with BAME (black and minority ethnic) colleagues and communities and planning to carry out a similar exercise [with them].

“We’re also carrying out similar exercises with care homes and schools.

“All three of these exercises are scheduled to take place later this month (August) and I will update you further in due course.”

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